Tag Archives: Brexit

Brexit Delayed

Messiest divorce ever

LONDON – In a surprise move, opposition and rebel British lawmakers voted Saturday to postpone an important Brexit vote, legally forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union.

A reluctant Johnson sent a letter requesting the delay late Saturday night, but he also made clear that he personally opposed delaying the U.K.’s exit, scheduled for Oct. 31.

The letter was not signed. It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, arguing that delay would “damage the interests if the U.K. and our EU partners.”

Brexit Deal?

Maybe.

After weeks of negotiations that seemed to be going nowhere, another deal was struck on Thursday.

The EU’s top negotiator declared the backstop has been abolished. But not everyone is happy with the replacement.

The new deal means Northern Ireland will stick to some EU rules, while technically still being in the UK customs area. Crucially, some checks will still take place between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Four years after it comes into effect, Northern Ireland’s politicians will have a say on whether to keep the deal going.

The EU is expected to agree to the new deal, if Ireland is happy.

Mr Johnson has until Saturday 19 October to get his deal across the line in the UK Parliament – or else he is legally required to request an extension to Brexit.

MPs in London will decide whether to sit on Saturday to debate the deal in the first Saturday session since 1982 – and that was at the start of the Falklands War.

Brexit Showdown

Wow! Changing parties mid-speech.

Conservative MP Phillip Lee has defected to the Liberal Democrats ahead of a showdown between Boris Johnson and Tory rebels over Brexit.

Dr Lee, the MP for Bracknell, took his seat on the opposition benches as the PM addressed the Commons.

His defection means Boris Johnson no longer has a working majority.

MPs hoping to pass legislation to block no deal have cleared the first hurdle after Speaker John Bercow granted them an emergency debate.

That debate could last up to three hours, followed by a vote. If the MPs win the vote – defeating the government – they will be able to take control of Commons business on Wednesday.

That will give them the chance to introduce a cross-party bill which would force the prime minister to ask for Brexit to be delayed until 31 January, unless MPs approve a new deal, or vote in favour of a no-deal exit, by 19 October.

Presentational grey line
Analysis box by Laura Kuenssberg, political editor

It seems right now – although there is still some arm twisting going on behind the scenes – that the government is set to lose the vote.

We are finding ourselves in the middle of a full-throttle confrontation between a Parliament that does not want to allow the country to leave the EU without a deal and a prime minister who secured his place in power promising he would always keep that as an option.

Both of them cannot be the victors here.

UK Government Asks Queen to Suspend Parliment

Brexit gonna Brexit.

The government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament just days after MPs return to work in September – and only a few weeks before the Brexit deadline.

Boris Johnson said a Queen’s Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his “very exciting agenda”.

But it means the time MPs have to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would be cut.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a “constitutional outrage”.

The speaker, who does not traditionally comment on political announcements, continued: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [MPs] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”

It would be “an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives”, he added.

Labour Moves Toward Brexit Deal

Nothing like a crisis to force a compromise. Then again, the compromise may be worse than the no-deal Brexit.

Labour MPs opposed to a second referendum are considering a “radical and dramatic intervention” to make clear to Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnsonthey are prepared to vote for a Brexit deal, with one estimating that dozens of colleagues are now ready to back the withdrawal agreement.

Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP who coordinates around 30 MPs in a group called Respect the Result, said he believed that passing the withdrawal agreement was the most certain way of stopping the UK crashing out without a deal.

Kinnock, who had been urging Corbyn to do a deal with Theresa May in cross-party talks, said there was an increasing feeling among many of his colleagues opposed to a second referendum that passing the withdrawal agreement bill was the best option.

Despite Johnson’s refusal to negotiate with the EU unless it drops the backstop, Kinnock said a time would come in the autumn when a compromise deal could be done based on the withdrawal agreement that emerged out of cross-party talks.

“We’ve got to make a radical and dramatic intervention,” he said. “If enough of us do then it’s up to Boris Johnson to see where he goes from there. It means a large number of us going to see Jeremy and trying as hard as we possibly can telling him to make that big, bold offer, to face down the second referendum campaign and say there’s no time for that. We’ve got to get this deal over the line.

EU Rejects UK’s Bid for New Brexit Negotiations

Brexit gonna brexit.

Diplomats from the other EU member states have been told the UK will leave without a deal unless major changes are made to Theresa May’s agreement, but that proposals such as abolishing the Irish backstop were unacceptable.

One negotiator said: “We are back where we were three years ago.”

Downing Street said it hoped the EU would rethink its refusal of changes.

A spokesperson said the EU “needed to change its stance”, adding: “We will throw ourselves into the negotiations with the greatest energy and the spirit of friendship and we hope the EU will rethink its current refusal to make any changes to [Mrs May’s] Withdrawal Agreement.”

The plan negotiated between the EU and Mrs May was voted down by MPs three times.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to “do or die”, and leave the EU by the deadline of 31 October, with or without a deal.

House Rejects All Brexit Options

What a mess.

A series of votes on Brexit options – known as “indicative” votes, designed to see what MPs would and would not support amid the Brexit deadlock – were held on Wednesday evening in the House of Commons, the main decision-making body of the UK Parliament, following hours of debate.

Unusually, MPs indicated their preferences using printed voting forms rather than trooping through the voting lobbies of the chamber.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the results, revealing that MPs had rejected:

  • Leaving the EU with no deal on 12 April
  • Unilaterally dropping the plan to leave the EU if no deal is reached by 12 April
  • A new referendum on any deal/s to leave the EU
  • Leaving the EU but staying in a customs union with the 27 EU states
  • Two variations on leaving the EU but staying in the European Economic Area (EEA) and rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
  • Negotiating changes to the Withdrawal Agreement more in line with the Labour Party’s position
  • Agreeing with the EU a period of two years in which UK goods have full access to EU markets

MPs from Mrs May’s Conservative Party were allowed by the leadership to vote as they saw fit, with the exception of her most senior ministers, who were expected to abstain.

[…]

The UK could still leave with no deal on 12 April if a way forward is not found. Although this is now regarded as unlikely, given the opposition of most MPs, by what method this can be avoided – and even who will be in charge of the process – is not entirely clear.

Brexit March

Not that I planned it, but I was in London for the gigantic anti-Brexit march that happened yesterday. My hotel was on Piccadilly across the park from Buckingham Palace. The march went right in front of my hotel. I skipped over to the City of London to escape most of the craziness, but was able to enjoy some fun protest signs. It took every fiber of my being to resist slipping in with a sign that said, “I’m American! I’m indifferent!”

 

House Speaker Triggers Constitutional Crisis

In Britain.

The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal.

With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal.

John Bercow’s shock move, which drew immediate criticism from May’s allies, suggested he believed such a fundamental change would involve a renegotiation at EU level rather than clarification of the legal advice written by the attorney general, something that had been suggested this week.

The solicitor general, Robert Buckland, said the decision was a “constitutional crisis” and that the government might have to consider the drastic step of ending the parliamentary session early and restarting a new session.

Brexit Broken

Divorces are always messy.

Theresa May’s planned Brexit deal has suffered a major defeat in the UK parliament, leaving the Brexit process in disarray.

Mrs May began the day with renewed hope after securing last-minute changes to her withdrawal deal with the EU.

But MPs roundly defeated her proposals, 391 votes to 242, weeks after her first attempt to pass the deal met the same fate.

Had the vote gone her way, the UK would be preparing to leave the EU on 29 March.

That exit date still looms large, but things could go a few different ways before then.

The next step is… another vote (this one on Wednesday). MPs will vote on a motion on whether to allow the UK to exit the EU on 29 March without a deal – a so-called “disorderly” or “no-deal” Brexit.

Leaving the EU without a deal – and therefore without the 21-month transition period provided for by the deal – carries significant risks for trade, immigration, health, and more, and parliament will almost certainly reject that possibility.

Rejection of a no-deal Brexit would then set up… yes, you guessed it: another vote.

This one would decide whether Mrs May will go back to the EU to request an extension to Article 50 – the formal name for the notification from the UK that it is leaving the union.

That would throw the Brexit ball into the EU’s court – potentially allowing the union to decide the terms of any extension period.

Brexit Shorthand

The BBC does a nice job of breaking down the latest news about Brexit without overwhelming you with the overheated rhetoric. This is my favorite part.

What was all that nonsense with the mace?

This chaotic and revolutionary-seeming period in British politics was symbolised best, perhaps, by an MP from the opposition Labour Party dramatically grabbing and making off with the ceremonial mace in the House of Commons after Mrs May called off the much-expected vote on her Brexit deal.

The mace represents the Queen in Parliament and debate cannot continue if it is removed.

 

I find infinite fascination in the Brits’ struggles to extricate themselves from being ruled by an overbearing overseas ruler. As Americans, we have some experience with that.

Boris Attacks Semi-Brexit

Zing!

Mr Johnson does not pull any punches, telling Theresa May Brexit “should be about opportunity and hope” and a “chance to do things differently”, but “that dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt”.

He claims crucial decisions have been postponed, including preparations for a “no deal” scenario, “with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system”.

“It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws,” he says.

“In that respect we are truly headed for the status of colony – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement.”

He said he had congratulated the PM on Friday on getting the cabinet to sign up to her proposals at their Chequers away day, admitting that there were too few ministers on his side of the argument to get their way.

The government now had a “song to sing” on Brexit, he added: “The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat”.

Sometimes the middle road is not the best road.

Soros Pushes to Reverse Brexit

Heh.

A campaign to secure a second Brexit referendum within a year and save the UK from “immense damage” is to be launched in days, the philanthropist and financier George Soros has announced.

The billionaire founder of the Open Society Foundation said the prospect of the UK’s prolonged divorce from Brussels could help persuade the British public by a “convincing margin” that EU membership was in their interests.

In a speech on Tuesday ahead of the launch of the Best for Britain campaign – said to have already attracted millions of pounds in donations – Soros suggested to an audience in Paris that changing the minds of Britons would be in keeping with “revolutionary times”.

Germany Worries About Decline of UK Market After Brexit

Remember that the reason Germany and other EU members fought Brexit so hard was due to their own self interests. They do not have Britain’s best interests at heart.

For the first time in years, German sweet makers have seen a significant drop in the number of exports to Britain, Stephan Nießner said.

The UK market makes up a significant proportion of Germany’s confectionary exports, with around seven percent of sweets produced in the country bound for Great Britain.

[…]

Sixty-eight percent of the cars produced in the city are shipped to the UK.

News that the German confectionery industry is suffering in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote comes as Angela Merkel insisted the reason her country enjoyed such a large surplus was because German-made products are in such demand.

Brexit Deadlock

This was entirely predictable.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier says there has not been enough progress to move to the next stage of Brexit talks as the UK wants.

He said there was “new momentum” in the process but there was still “deadlock” over the so-called divorce bill, which he said was “disturbing”.

“Decisive progress is in our grasp within the next two months”, he added.

This week’s fifth round of talks are the final discussions before a crucial EU summit on 19 and 20 October.

What you have here is a divorce where one party, the EU, that doesn’t want to split. They aren’t going to agree to anything short of Britain staying in the abusive marriage. The only way this ends is when Britain takes her stuff, moves out, and stops returning the EU’s calls and snaps. Only then will the EU come to appreciate Britain’s value and they can reestablish a more platonic relationship on mutually-favorable terms.

EU Unhappy with UK Brexit Provision

I suspect we’re going to see this cycle over and over again in the next few years.

Efforts to reassure EU citizens in the UK about their future after Brexit are “a first step but not sufficient”, a top EU official has said.

Under plans announced by Theresa May, EU nationals living in the UK for five years would get “settled status”, with access to health and other benefits.

The PM said people deserved certainty but European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker said more was needed.

And campaigners said there were still “more questions than answers”.

Remember that EU folks are angry that Britain has decided to exit the EU in the first place, so they aren’t going to be happy with anything other than a reversal of that decision. So Britain is going to announce a Brexit policy, EU officials will say it is insufficient, rinse, repeat.

These Were Not the Intended Results

Fascinating and hilarious all the same.

The ruling Conservative Party (nicknamed the Tories) thought it was going to increase its numbers in Parliament, but has instead lost seats – and its slim majority; it held 330 seats before the election (326 is the magic number for a majority).

Instead, the opposition Labour Party has won back many seats.

A graphic showing, after 649 out of 650 seats, Conservatives being largest party, but Labour having making a 9.5% gain

To cap it all off, Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t need to call this election – she did so because she thought she’d win a landslide. The result is being seen as a major defeat for her.

May Calls for Election

Even though she’s ahead in the polls, it’s a gutsy move.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election for 8 June, taking the country by surprise.

The previous election was in 2015, so another was not due until 2020.

Ms May pledged several times after taking office last year not to call an early election, so this is something of a U-turn.


Why the U-turn?

The prime minister wants a strong mandate in parliament going into what are likely to be fraught negotiations with Europe over Britain’s exit from the EU.

Her Conservative party has a relatively slim majority in the House of Commons, won in 2015 under the previous leader David Cameron. But since that election the main opposition Labour party has collapsed in the polls, leaving her in a much stronger position and making an election win significantly more likely.

A victory in June would also hand her a very important personal mandate. Having taken over from Mr Cameron when he resigned mid-term, after losing the Brexit referendum, she has yet to win her own general election.

Brexit Bill Passes Hurdle

The vote in the Commons was much less close than the referendum vote.

MPs have voted by a majority of 384 to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to get Brexit negotiations under way.

They backed the government’s European Union Bill, supported by the Labour leadership, by 498 votes to 114.

But the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats opposed the bill, while 47 Labour MPs and Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke rebelled.

The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.

The prime minister has set a deadline of 31 March for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting official talks with the EU started. The bill returns to the Commons next week.

Brexit Confusion

Wow. So the U.K. court has essentially ruled that the Parliment can ignore the national referendum results if they want.

The U.K. High Court ruled that lawmakers should vote on whether the government can begin the formal Brexit process by triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty.

Experts say parliament is unlikely to block Brexit outright. But the ruling could mean Brexit is delayed, and lawmakers may get a chance to influence what kind of deal the government negotiates with the EU.

The ruling is a defeat for the government. Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, meaning the U.K. would most likely leave the EU two years later.

The government said it was disappointed by the judgment and would appeal.

“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the Government is determined to respect the result of the referendum,” a government spokesperson said.